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Teaching the God of the Old Testament

Perhaps you have heard someone say, “My God is the God of the New Testament, not the Old Testament.” Perhaps they have been taught that God in the New Testament is loving and kind, while the God of the Old Testament is hateful and vengeful (or some other negative thoughts about God from Old Testament examples or God’s justice). 

Sunday’s lesson on March 26 may give you an opportunity to use the prophet Joel to teach your class that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same God, though of course the New Testament reveals much more about God than the Old Testament alone. Many in the Old Testament longed to see God’s salvation revealed in the Messiah, and Jesus did just that when He came, plus much more when He demonstrated the love of God by dying to save us. 

Suggestions for Class Discussion: 

1. Ask your class if they have ever heard someone say (or what might they say to someone who said): “My God is the God of the New Testament, not the Old Testament.” 

2. Teach them how they can use the prophet Joel to show that the same God is the God of both the Old and New Testaments: 

a. God is a just God in both the Old and New Testaments. Joel wrote about “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31). On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached from Joel, “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord” (Acts 2:20). Later, Peter wrote, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives” (2 Peter 3:10-11).

b. Joel also revealed the true character of God, “God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13). God sent His Son, Jesus, so He could be just when He mercifully relented from sending calamity on sinners.

c. God promised through Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (Joel 2:28). 

d. God also promised through Joel, “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved” (2:32). 

3. Perhaps use a concordance to find where Joel is quoted in the New Testament and have your students read those passages. See the International Bible Lesson Commentary for other ideas. 

If you have other ideas on this or other topics, please share them with others on the Forum, who will also be teaching from Joel on March 26. 

For the Love of God’s Word,
L.G.
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